Improving the occupant experience: Cory Souders on the amBX Smart Building Podcast
Last month, Molex Business Development Manager Cory Souders made a guest appearance on the amBX Smart Building Podcast to talk about trends in smart buildings and the benefits of building smart lighting systems on an IP infrastructure.
Part of the CoreSync Alliance, amBX develops unique and innovative lighting control software, connecting high-performance control with real-time data to create smart, connected lighting experiences.
The Smart Building Podcast aims to explore every aspect of a smart building from employee health & wellbeing to touchless technology, occupancy sensors and sustainability. By speaking to industry experts and key stakeholders it gathers opinions & discusses the future of digitized, fully connected buildings & cities.
Improving occupant experience with smart buildings
To date, much of the messaging in the smart building industry has focused on energy savings and sustainability, but benefits in occupant experience and employee comfort are beginning to move toward the center stage. Focusing on energy efficiency enables companies to make quick wins, but by increasing the sophistication of their implementation they can gain a lot more from their buildings.
“A good user experience can also lead to greater cost savings, not just on the energy side but on the real estate side, and the cost of productivity of an employee,” says Corey. “We’re starting to see the WELL building standard overtaking the LEED building standard. Both are good standards, but LEED is more focused on energy and sustainability, whereas WELL is more centered around the building occupant. Just in the lighting world, the proper lighting can help prevent eyestrain, can help with your circadian rhythms, and comfort, integrating that lighting with shades, HVAC and AV brings additional advantages.”
Smart buildings on a PoE infrastructure
Molex CoreSync is designed around a PoE backbone that provides both power and data connectivity for devices and sensors. PoE is a scalable technology, and as it utilizes low voltage it is easy to adapt as changes get made to the layout of a building. But perhaps most importantly, it provides a backbone that is future-ready.
“I like to use the smartphone analogy,” says Corey. “I got my first smartphone about 10 or 12 years ago, and for the most part the smartphone hasn’t changed over those years. Yes the camera’s got a little bit better, the processor got a little bit faster, but that main infrastructure of what a smartphone is has remained the same. So when I start to add controls, say I want to control my garage door, I don’t need to buy a new phone, I just need to add the app and the required hardware for that particular application, and then I’ve got that control over my garage door. PoE gives you that same infrastructure in place that is very easy to add to in the future.”
Data capture for smart insights
Data is the essential element of a smart building that enables it to be “smart”. By collecting real-time information on things like occupancy, temperature, light and air quality, decisions about layout, resources and capital expenditure can be data driven.
“The best way to gather that data is through sensors… and because lighting is everywhere in the building, that we can attach those sensors to light fixtures or in that same grid pattern as the light fixtures, so we can get more and more data, and more granular data as well. Analyzing that data enables us to make predictions for the future: things like, we can estimate the lifetime of a fixture, we see which spaces are occupied, which are less occupied, and we can plan our real estate planning based on those trends. And we can use that data to automate responses for the future, so we can do things like task tuning of lights, or time scheduling. We can also predict energy demand so we can do some load shedding and demand response based on utilization.”
The future of smart buildings
One of the things Corey sees driving the market for commercial smart buildings is domestic IoT technologies.
“I think as we experience these comforts and conveniences at home – I refer to the garage door example but [think about] Amazon Alexa [as well] – as we get that technology in our home I think we’re going to see demand translate to the commercial office space as well. When I go into the office I’d like to have the same comfort and conveniences as I have at home.
“I think as the cost of that technology and implementing that technology comes down that’ll drive the growth of smart buildings as well. And you know, living in a – hopefully soon to be – post-Covid world, I think there’s going to be changes in the real estate market. We’re going to need more intelligence on those buildings as we figure out what that return to work strategy looks like.”
Episode 16 of the amBX Smart Building Podcast, “How Can Smart Lighting Accelerate Smart Building Adoption?” is available online – click here to download or listen.